CBP Announces ESTA Ineligibility for Travelers Who Have Been Present in Cuba
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) recently announced that individuals who have been present in Cuba or who are dual nationals of a Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”) country and Cuba will be ineligible for ESTA.
Previously, on January 21, 2021, DOS designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, making these individuals ineligible for travel under the VWP. Recently, on July 6, 2023, DHS updated the ESTA application form and ESTA Mobile App to reflect these changes. For individuals whose ESTA was already approved, if it is later determined that the traveler has been present in Cuba or holds dual nationality with both a VWP country and Cuba, the ESTA will be revoked, and the traveler will receive a notification indicating their ESTA status has changed. Individuals can check their updated status on the ESTA Mobile App or on CBP’s ESTA website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
CBP notes that travel to the United States is not barred for those travelers who are affected by the restriction and do not meet the exemption criteria. The agency further instructs its officers to direct such travelers to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at any U.S. embassy or consulate.
Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, military personnel and government employees are exempted from the VWP travel restrictions based on their presence in Cuba if such presence was in order to carry out their official duties for military service in the armed forces of a VWP country or as full-time government employees of a VWP country. However, there are no exemptions for presence in Cuba on behalf of international organizations or dual nationality with both a VWP country and Cuba.
If you have any questions, please contact our office today!